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Swan Song 2

Domo arigato for the useful info regarding "swan song". As a non-native English speaker, how the words and phrases I haven't seen very often actually sound to native speakers is an intriguing yet hard-to-learn-by-myself matter. I very much appreciate your help.

This morning, I noticed a paperback that I bought many years ago but have left unread -- "GET TO THE ROOTS - A Dictionary of Words & Phrase Origins" (Martin Manser, Avon Books). I looked up "swan song", and sure there was! Here let me quote:

The expression derives from the belief - found in writings of the ancient Greeks and the poetry of Shakespeare and Coleridge - that a swan sings a beautiful sweet song just before it dies. The belief is in fact mistaken, but nevertheless the expression lingers.

Interesting, even though it isn't the case, the expression sounds somewhat persuasive.

It's always fun for me to get to know new words and phrases.


Yes, there's a lot more to words than their meanings; there's the feelings they convey, the images and memories they invoke.

I've had a question about a Japanese expression that I've been wanting to ask you. (Actually, I'd like to start an equivalent section on my weblog with the hope that some of you native speakers of Japanese would clarify my questions on Japanese).

Do you know what futon-mushi is? Have you ever done futon-mushi? The older (over 60) teachers at my school were all familiar with the term and a common practice in their youth on overnight school trips. The younger teachers had heard the term, but seemed to consider it old-fashioned. The students had never even heard the term.

By the way, I found this term in my kanji dictionary, the source of many archaic and literary terms. It does not appear in my Japanese-English dictionary.

Hi, M
I've never heard of the "futon-mushi."
I'd like to know what it is.
Is it to put a person in rolled futon?

M, I looked it up in a Japanese dictionary. I understand the idea, but I've never done it. Frankly, I think it sounds old-fashioned now.

Did you look it up in the dictionary because you hadn't heard the term before, or only because you wanted to clarify the meaning of it?

Serena, according to my kanji dictionary futonmushi means "confining (someone) under several futons (for fun)". This sounds, to me, like the Japanese equivalent of a pillow fight.

As far as I know, American children still have pillow fights at slumber parties (or sleepovers as they're called now). Pillow fights (shot in slow motion) are also a popular cliche in some movies for teenagers providing frat boys the opportunity to ogle girls clad in short nighties. How the feathers fly! (The pillow are always soft, feather pillows, never foam pillows.)

I consulted the dictionary because I didn't know the meaning. Actually, I'm not sure if I have heard it before.

Talking of pillow fights, we have "makura-nage," where kids throw pillows at each other - popular sham fights on occasions like school trips.